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must bestow his favours with disinterested benevolence, with a kindness that flows from a generous heart ;-and without abusing that power which he acquires, by often reminding the person whom he has obliged of the very great value of the favours conferred. Should he bestow his gifts for the purpose of afterwards exercising a malevolent control, in exacting services which it is unreasonable to pay, and in cruelly. torturing the unfortunate objects of his professed liberality, he can have no ground to complain of the want of gratitude, since gratitude, in the way in which he expected it, was never really due.
The duties of the obliged are very obvious. Nature teaches them to love those who do them good, especially when this good is manifestly done from pure and disinterested motives. It also points out to them the obligation of guarding their reputation, and of promoting their interests ; and, generally, of doing all in their power, without compromising moral principle, to extend their happiness. Christianity very fully, by the great facts on which it rests, by the leading motives which it presents, by incidental allusions, and by numerous examples, recognises these, as the duties which spring from gratitude.
“ We love him, (God) because he first loved us. The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge,—that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again *.” “ The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus ; for he oft refreshed me, and find mercy
* 2 Cor. v. 14, 15,
was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may of the Lord in that day *.”
Hence, then, the great evil of ingratitude: an evil which consists in the violation of the natural feelings of the human heart, which, because they are truly natural, are an intimation to us of the will of God This intimation is ratified by the unequivocal authority of revelation. To love those who love them, it considers to be so common to mankind, that this affection is exercised by those who have scarcely any other virtue f. To be void of it, mankind have considered in all ages as the extreme of human depravity. They have classed the ungrateful with the most atrocious criminals.
Mr. Paley places the evil of ingratitude on the wrong foundation,—the inexpediency of its practice in reference to society. “In this,” says he, “the mischief of ingratitude consists. Nor is the mischief small; for after all is done that can be done, towards providing for the public happiness, by prescribing rules of justice, and enforcing the observation of them by penalties or compulsion, much must be left to those offices of kindness, which men remain at liberty to exert or withhold. Now, not only the choice of the objects, but the quantity, and even the existence of this sort of kindness in the world, depends, in a great measure, upon the return which it receives.”
Undoubtedly, there are many who exercise kindness, or the appearance of kindness, from interested
of Matt. v. 46.
• 2 Tim. i. 16-19.
motives, and from the return of gratitude which they expect to receive. Is it, however, for a writer on morals, to recommend this conduct to mankind! If, in giving of our property to the poor, we must bestow, if we bestow aright, not with a view to compensation in the gratitude which it may procure us, but from a sense of duty, we are surely bound to discharge all the obligations of benevolence on the same principle. We ought to exercise beneficence to all men as we have opportunity ; and we ought to feel,
; and to shew ourselves grateful to our benefactors : but we should act thus in both cases, because it is our duty, enjoined by the will of God, and the performance of which is well-pleasing to him.
Ingratitude, doubtless, like the manifestation of depravity in
form, is productive of sin and misery. But no man who is beneficent on principle, that is, who is virtuously beneficent, will be checked in his virtuous course, by discovering the baseness and malignity of those whom he has benefited. " I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, -that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
It has been supposed that the existence of friendship is incompatible with the exercise of universal benevolence; and that on this ground the Scriptures are silent respecting it*.
* “We perceive the impropriety of making it (friendship) the subject of legislation. It is the duty of every man to cultivate the dispositions which lead to friendship, the love of his species, admiration of virtue, regard to the feelings of others, gratitude, humility, along with the most inflexible adherence to probity and truth. Wherever these exist, friendship will be the natural result ; but it will result as a felicity rather than a duty; and is to be placed among the rewards of virtue, rather than its obligations. Happiness is not to be prescribed, but to be enjoyed. Were friendship inculcated as a matter of indispensable obligation, endless embarrassment would arise in determining at what period the relation shall commence ; whether with one or with more ; and at what stage, in the progress of mutual attraction, at what point, the feelings of reciprocal regard shall be deemed to reach the maturity, which entitles them to the sacred name of friendship. The laws of piety and virtue are coeval with our existence, considered as reasonable and accountable creatures. Their authority is founded on immutable relations, the duties resulting from which are capable of being clearly conceived and exactly defined; but he who should undertake to prescribe to the subtle and mysterious impulses which invite susceptible minds to friendship, would find himself engaged in an attempt as hopeless, as to regulate the motions of the air which “bloweth where it listethi
But though the cultivation of friendship, for the reasons already assigned, is not made the subject of precept, but is left to grow up of itself under the general culture of reason and religion, it is one of the fairest productions of the human soil, the cordial of life, the lenitive of our sorrows, and the multiplier of our joys ; the source equally of animation and of repose. He who is destitute of this blessing, amidst the greatest crowd and pressure of society, is doomed to solitude ; and however surrounded with flatterers and admirers, however armed with power, and rich in the endowments of nature and of fortune, has no resting place. The most elevated station in life affords no exemption from those agitations and disquietudes which can only be laid to rest on the bosom of a friend. He who has made the acquisition of a judicious and sympathizing friend, may be said to have doubled his mental resources: by associating an equal, perhaps a superior mind, with his own, he has provided the means of strengthening his reason, of perfecting his counsels, of discerning and correcting his errors. He can have recourse at all times to the judgment and assistance of one, who, with the same power of discernment with himself, comes to the decision of a question with a mind neither harassed with the perplexities, nor heated with the passions, which so frequently obscure the perception of our true interests. Next to the immediate guidance of God by his Spirit, the counsel and encouragement of virtuous and enlightened friends afford the most powerful aid, in the encounter of temptation and in the career of duty." (A Sermon occasioned by the death of the Rev. John Ryland, D.D., by Robert Hall, M.A.)
But this supposition is not well-founded. It is possible to love our neighbour as ourselves, and at the same time entertain that love and esteem towards individuals which constitute friendship. From the different dispositions and temperaments of mankind, it would appear to be the design of Providence, that friendship should be formed, in consequence of persons of kindred minds associating together.
The Scriptures abound with the most beautiful examples of the tenderest and closest friendship. How could the strength and durability of friendship be more touchingly exemplified than in the case of David and Jonathan? Their several interviews present to us the exercise of deep and disinterested affection. “ The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and
it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”
With regard to the alleged silence of the Gospel as to friendship, it may be remarked, that its Divine Author commanded his disciples to love one another with a pure and disinterested affection; and that the direct tendency of his religion is to produce and maintain among all truly virtuous persons a friendship of the most generous and exalted nature, to flourish with new and undecaying vigour in a happier world. new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one
, another; as I have loved
also love one